Michael W. Murphy, Ph.D.
Committee on Veterans Affairs
I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Senator Salazar's interest and concern for the veterans we are privileged to serve and look forward to working with him wherever possible to make improvements in our health care delivery. Thank you for this opportunity to speak today on behalf of the Grand Junction VA Medical Center (VAMC).
The Grand Junction VAMC is a part of the VA Rocky Mountain Network (VISN 19), which includes six facilities in
The Grand Junction VAMC consists of one facility located in the city of
The VAMC is a Complexity Level IV facility, which celebrated its 50th year of service to veterans in 1999. It operates 53 beds comprised of 23 acute care and 30 Transitional Care Unit beds. The VAMC provides primary and secondary care including acute medical, surgical and psychiatric inpatient services, as well as a full range of outpatient services. Specialized programs include a Mental Health Care Center, substance abuse treatment, same day surgery, observation beds, computerized tomography (CT) and mobile MRI imaging. Patients requiring tertiary care are transferred to
When necessary and appropriate, hospitalization and specialty care are provided locally on a contract or fee for service basis. Through an agreement with local St. Mary's Hospital, the largest healthcare facility on the Western Slope, we obtain radiation therapy and other specialized medical services. The VAMC benefits from scarce medical specialty agreements with community specialists who provide urology, ophthalmology, ENT, orthopedic, neurology and podiatry services. These agreements enable us to provide a spectrum of care and services, which far surpasses comparably sized VA medical centers.
The VAMC was the recipient of the 2001 Presidential Award for Quality and the 1999 Robert W. Carey Quality Award Trophy. These achievements are especially noteworthy because both were earned upon the first application. Of further note, it is the first and only organization ever in VA to earn the Presidential Award for Quality.
The Colorado counties in our patient service area (PSA) extend northward from the medical center nearly 200 miles to the Wyoming border, southward approximately 150 miles to the northern borders of the counties of Montezuma, La Plata and Archuleta and 190 miles east into the Rocky Mountains. Montezuma,
Also in the 1996-1997 timeframe, VISN 19 initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process with all its VAMCs which resulted in a mutual decision with the Grand Junction VAMC that we would prepare a business plan proposal for a community based outpatient clinic (CBOC) in
Our Montrose CBOC proposal was ultimately approved by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 1998, endorsed by Congress, and the clinic opened in January 1999. It has been successful to date, meeting the needs of underserved veterans in the CBOC's five-county service area.
During VHA's national effort to realign existing resources with current and projected needs, known as the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) planning process, we participated with VISN 19 once again to conduct extensive strategic planning which included analysis of potential sites for CBOCs. None were identified for the Western Slope based on current guidelines for veteran population and the number of projected users.
VA CBOC planning guidelines, contained in VHA Handbook 1006.1, released in 2004, continue to emphasize need based upon veteran population, focusing in particular on the number of veterans, enrollees and actual users in the Priority 1-6 (P1-6) levels. Current P1-6 veteran data show northwest
Although the veteran numbers in northwest
In summary, we agree that veterans should not have to forego their benefits or access as a function of where they live. The Grand Junction VAMC remains eager to discuss possible alternative delivery methods that are within our resources and within applicable VA regulations and guidelines.
This concludes my statement on behalf of the Grand Junction VAMC. Once again, I thank Senator Salazar for his interest and concern for the welfare of our veterans and their access to health care. I will be happy to answer any your questions.
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